Dear Charlotte: February 19, 2014
Well, it has snowed again. And again. Yesterday Willow came home, so we had to be on the roads- which I have been avoiding, (I am SO happy that I can), and was very pleased to see only one car spin-out all day. It reminded me of when we dropped Willow’s car off in Manchester several years ago, and it was snowing heavily (like yesterday), and we saw spin-outs at about two or three every mile. That was when I got my first cell phone (the next day), because I knew that when it took us two and a half hours to get home when it usually takes only an hour, people at home would want to be able to hear from us that we were OK.
It had just started snowing when I went out and got my van registered and inspected Thursday, and Steve LaPlant, one of the family who run Winkles, told me he’s plowing driveways for only $25. He’s come twice (every six inches), and he even moved Willow’s car for me (while I moved mine), plowed out the mailbox, and shoveled the front steps! That’s a deal! I am a bit concerned that our local road crew may not be happy with the 7 foot pile of snow on the corner, but it’s not in the road, and they haven’t said anything yet. it’s got to go somewhere I guess. The road crews had the roads pretty clear when I came back, but when Kat and I went out again an hour later to try to give blood, we turned around in Wilton and came back. Even though they “fixed” my windshield wipers, I still couldn’t keep the windscreen clear. Ice kept building up.
Steve didn’t come by yesterday, and John shoveled out a hole for me to get back in (just my spot). Willow was impressed (depressed?) to see her buried car, (BTW, these pictures are from last weekend, before the latest six inches were added). Indeed, the snow up against the livingroom windows now covers the bottom half of the windows. It is at this point that I begin thinking about Fimbul Winter and how awful it would be if the seasons stayed this way for much longer.
When we went to do the dishes last night no hot came up, so we called the oil company and the furnace guy came this morning. Apparently our nozzle was clogged. I’d thought that we were on an automatic maintanance program, but clearly not. Kat has helped me put it into my computer calendar, and now, as with Birthdays, it will remind me every year. I AM on an automatic delivery and payment system, but the tank is nearly empty. I think they came up with a “this is how much and how often they used to get oil from us”, but this winter has been rather cold, and I think the tank has been getting lower and lower each delivery because of that. Maybe it will gradually get more and more full during the summer months.
Liz and Dad’s old house had a broken pipe last week. Apparently it was quite impressive. Liz had suggested getting it winterized and closed up last fall, but Trish (as executrix) decided just to keep it at 50º and have Eddie Flick check it every week. As Eddie’s down with Bob, who’s been moved to hospice in the Boston area (apparently the local hospital only wanted to do critical care, and all Bob’s kids have to drive many hours to be with him. I think it’s horrible that we don’t create systems so people can die peacefully with their families around them!) Anyway, last week Tim checked, since Eddie was down with their father, and discovered a broken pipe. He called Trish, who seems to have been in New Mexico, but she called a plumber and insurance people, and a bunch of other people to get it taken care of. But it was Thursday I got the email telling us.
I immediately messaged Liz and asked her how bad it was, but she thought I was talking about the snow storm, and said “only a few inches”. Trish had said that there was about three inches of standing water in the rooms where a great deal of Liz’s stuff she hadn’t yet brought over to her new house remain. Liz was dealing with the snow, and re-injured her back, but happened to call Trish on Friday for something else and that’s when she found out. She did get over for a while on the weekend. For some reason Trish had told her that her stuff wouldn’t be covered by insurance, and the friend helping her invoked the popular “if you haven’t used it in six months, toss it” theory. Anything that’s been there over-winter clearly hasn’t been used in six months, and she lost lots of keepsakes and other stuff that she was trying to figure out how to fit into her tiny house. It’s so sad.
If I had sent a full email or called, she wouldn’t have misunderstood my message, but I was busy getting ready for the weekend and dealing with the snow down here. While the ease of being able to message our friends so easily is lovely, I’m afraid that often it doesn’t create clear communication. We are lulled into complacency, thinking we’ve “taken care of things”, but really, even aside from using code words (LOL, BRB, BFF, PITA, WTF), and abandoning punctuation and grammar, modern networks do not create the sort of communication that face to face speech, phone conversations, and hand written (thought out) letters used to. I very much doubt that anyone is going to preserve “texts” or “tweets” the way collections of letters are a form of literature. Historians may mine them for information, and even use the style to decipher the meta-communication. But literature it is NOT.
The snow on Thursday was impressive- I think we got about 14-17 inches, but by the time I drove out to the Mensa Regional Gathering the roads were clear. I hate to focus on food, but I have to say Elizabeth Becker runs the most amazing Hospitality I’ve ever seen! She has taken the ability to put out food in bountiful amounts and wonderful taste to new heights. I understand that every Mensa branch has its own style (as happens with each scout troup or SCA barony), but I have to think that her contributions make a huge difference to the NH Mensa RGs. There was dinner when we arrived Friday night (stew until the home-made lasagna got there), followed by an ice-cream social at 8:30, shrimp and champagne at 11, Saturday included breakfast lunch and dinner (we’re talking fresh waffles beyond the usual bagels and buns), salads, food for vegetarians and vegans, dinner was a Chinese food banquet (another year I remember they had lobster), I have a picture of the home-made cookies in the afternoon- there were trays and trays, and Saturday night there was a chocolate extravaganza. There was a constantly renewed supply of not just snacks, but drinks from a coffee bar, a wine bar, beers, and a talented mixologist tending an open bar in the evenings. I remember making “excessive” food in the SCA, but I think she functions at my scale- or above. It’s not like she did it without the help of volunteers, but I can’t imagine anyone else doing it as well! And did I mention that this was all included in the RG cost?
I am flattered because they comp me in, and this year provided me with a (shared) room. The theme was Star Trek “Warp Factor RG”, and I did one workshop on energy healing- something I think they don’t do enough of in Science Fiction. It works really well, and I certainly HOPE they will have gotten better at it in another hundred years or so. The other workshop was on my “Unified Field Theory” of Divination, the basics about how it works, without going into details on any specific system. I think I made a mistake in bringing my basket of assorted divinatory tools. While they did give me points to take off from, I think they also distracted me from making all the points I should have done, and would probably have done better with an outline. (Have I mentioned I hate outlines?) There was live music through the airwall during my class, but afterwards I hurried over there and got his CDs. Sadly, they weren’t the classic songs he was doing there, but original songs. Not bad, but I’d have loved his covers more.
They also had live music during dinner, and a band to dance to after. I danced a bit, but they are way too loud, so I went upstairs and caught a couple episodes of Trek. One, by coincidence, Kat had been talking about just before I went. On Voyager, someone had a holograph program of something like Flash Gordon, and Captain Janeway had to play a Spider Queen (thirties style- and they were all in black and white), and an episode of Enterprise, with Orion slavegirls. I’d never seen Enterprise, and not much of Voyager, and have now started watching it- from the beginning. This may take a while. Sadly, I forgot to take many pictures.
Sunday morning I got my suitcase and basket out to the car and then was free to help pack up. I know so well how hard it is to get help packing up after an event when everyone else is packing up their own stuff, and we’re usually among them. So I was happy to be free to help, and since I hadn’t been working in hospitality all weekend, I just washed dishes- something that requires no decision making, while they packed around me. Having helped with that, I felt a bit less guilty about taking home leftovers. There were a LOT of leftovers from the Chinese food. They’d had over 20 different kinds of food (from a local buffet), and I think I heard that they’d expected the 12×18 pans, and gotten the 18×24 size pans, so there was a LOT. And I took home a lot. And everyone else took home a lot. And I still got home before dark.
Willow’s trip: We dropped Willow off last week and she flew down to Florida to spend a week with her friend Tyra. They stayed in a hotel, and went to: Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, Universal including Wizarding World (we got the postcard she sent from Hogwarts today), Jurassic Park, one for Marvel comics and one for newspaper comics, and Suessland. They had a ride on one of those big swamp fan boats, and she ate gator and frogs legs, and punched a seagull over on the gulf coast. They played mini golf, and fed alligators, went to a zoo, went to Disneyworld, where she got to meet lots of princesses, and got a tiara, and went in the Haunted House, and Pirates of the Carribean. She tells me there are LOTS of castles, not just one. They also went to Tyras house, met her parents, and Willow enthused a lot about the “foreign” fauna and flora. She had a great time, and if you want lots of details in her own words and with a bunch of “selfies”, click on the link. She’s put up a TON of other pictures on her facebook page.
We picked her up on the way home from taking Kat to see Kirk White, a holisitic therapist. Given that it had started snowing again, we might have tried a skype visit, but we were picking up a bunch of chinese herbs that are supposed to help, and we needed to actually be there for that. We carefully planned to get to the airport a half hour before Willow was getting in, made Kat’s appointment before that, added extra half hour for the snow, but totally underestimated how much the snow would slow us down. It wasn’t bad on the way up, but we had to slow down to about 35 mph on the way back and poor Willow had to wait in the terminal for us to arrive, then drive home because it had gotten dark. We started soaking the herbs last night, and have made up the tonic/elixir, and Kat has taken it. She makes a face, but says it’s not too bad. The worst part is that she has to take it on an empty stomache, and yshe doesn’t often stop eating.
A few minutes after we got home we had the next meeting of the Changing Times Changing Worlds Planning Committee. Thank goodness we’d decided we could do it 8-10 instead of 7-10. During the week I sent out the first newsletter for this year. I am SO happy that Cathy Kane is supporting me with this! She is so comforting, and practical, and I really wish all the others were as good at it. I suppose I must learn what their strengths are and help them play to them. The coolest thing we covered was social networking. Apparently I have to learn to Tweet, and I’m worried that it may eat up more of my time. I am having a bitch of a time getting to what I feel I should be doing- art and taking care of the house already. It seems that checking this website, then that, facebook and email, and google and yahoo takes up so much time, and just increases the chances that I won’t look at the one that someone is using to send me an important message. When it was just a mailing address and phone number, it was pretty easy to check, but all the various systems that people use (and assume everyone else does) are a hugely complicating factor.
While I was at the RG I figured I wouldn’t worry about carbs, and just ate what looked good, and big surprise, I’ve put on five pounds. Oh well, back to watching carbs. A couple weeks ago Willow and I got curious about just how much honey or sugar we were getting in our massive tea drinking. Turns out I go through about a half a cup a week. That’s about 140 grams of carbs, or about 20 a day (4 teaspoons). That’s all the carbs I’m supposed to have in a day. Well, it works if I’m just trying to lose slowly, and that’s all the sweet I have. Willow’s test has been interrupted by her trip, but it looks like she may go through about a cup of sugar a week. In truth, I didn’t realize we had that much sweetener in our tea. I guess it accumulates a drizzle at a time.
One of the books I’ve been reading this week is one called Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself (1861), while openly a sentimental anti-slavery book, is still accepted as a first person account. Modern readers (well, I) find the “delicacy” with with the subject of sex is treated (or rather, not treated), irritating. This does illustrate how very strongly the feeling that “one does not mention it” was inculcated into the people of the time. Clearly, the frank talk about parentage shows that they knew what was going on, and even mentioning that was anathema at the time. I will remember this when I hear about people in other states fighting hard for things in which they believe, even though others around them don’t. This was the theme in Little Colonel at Boarding School. She encountered people who believed differently than she did, knew and accepted that they felt differently because they had been brought up differently, but was still absolutely convinced that they were wrong, and inferior because of what they had been taught.
The more I think about it, the more I realize how much the Little Colonel books each convey a message or moral, but am not sure that they are more heavy-handed than those expressed in the American Girl stories of our time. A century ago adults embraced that job of “forming young minds” more easily. It’s not that they don’t these days. The books my kids were required to read in school were I’m sure intended to be “improving”. But from A Taste for Blackberries to The Gold Cadillac, they were universally depressing, and all shared the same lesson: “Life sucks, you may as well get used to it.” When I was a kid we read Profiles in Courage, or A Wrinkle in Time. You can’t have a adventure and character development without having to dealing with problems, but at least in our books the problems were not learning to put up with problems that the hero/ine can’t fix. In the case of the story of the slave, certainly she couldn’t stop slavery, but but told the story of what she did to save herself and her children. I am convinced that having the lesson be clear is not a failing in any book, but having the lesson be one of acceptance is a failure on the part of both society and the writer.
I also read a 19th century book on Offa of Mercia. We may have it all up on the people from back then on archeological knowledge, but they had us beat hollow in reading the old manuscripts! I am struck again how in the old days scholars just expected anyone who was educated to be able to read Latin, Greek, French and German. I keep thinking I should learn Latin and Greek, but meanwhile, thank goodness for Google Translator.
Well, time for me to get off. I’ve got to get ready for my “radio” show. The producer just sent me a link to my “page” on the website: http://liveparanormal.com/newnormal.html
If what we planned last night is true, this does help promote my guests. I have to go through the main CTCW website and put in internal links to make it easier to navigate. Sigh.
“Advice is like snow- the softer if falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper in sinks into the mind.” Samuel Taylor Coleridge